For the 2nd time in 2 weeks we’ve got the f-word featured prominently in our selection. This time however, it’s in the name of the band, not the album. It’s just those wacky Canadians spinning a yard about England – released in 2011, but referring to the 70’s and 90’s. Confused yet? Welp it’s a concept album-so RC is once again on familiar ground.
Fucked Up – David Comes to Life
Read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Comes_to_Life
Fun Facts: The album is a rock opera set in 1970s and 1980s England. The story involves unreliable narrators and meta-narrative plot devices. Drummer Jonah Falco described the album as a love story between the title character David and a girl named Veronica.
Spin named David Comes to Life its #1 Album of 2011, writing “Fucked Up have synthesized 40 years of rock into what’s ostensibly a hardcore record, and in doing so created its own logic
F*cked Up-David Comes To Life – I was ready to love this. I do not love this. I get that the lead singer is fat and has a weird look. But i cant see him when i listen to his album via the computer. 1.9 (wanted it to be 5.0)
F*cked Up-David Comes To Life
Preconceived Notions: Honestly, I’m nervous already. Haven’t we already listened to something from these guys? Did I block it out?
As Listening: Remember how I said I liked Best Coast because they didn’t seem to put on the airs of being “Artists” or capital M Musicians…well intros that are a 3 minute long instrumental, that aren’t that meaty either, don’t put me in a hopeful mood for the rest of the album.
I don’t get the combination of these vocals and the music. Why sound so angry when saying “let’s fall in love”? It’s like me returning a book to the library and screaming at the librarian “THANKS FOR THE BOOK!” before slamming it down and walking out. Also if David ever approached me and screamed at me, I’d think something was wrong with him. Perhaps Veronica has poor hearing, or maybe she just likes an Ike Turner attitude with her emo boys.
Some of the music reminds me of A New Found Glory, before they dropped the “A”, which I like. I really hate the vocals though, they’re baffling, and yes, I know this is their shtick.
Why not make it easier on everyone and call “The Other Shoe” “Dying On The Inside” ? If that’s going to be what you choose to repeat don’t get fancy and try to make people believe that you’re being clever.
Pretty sure “Running on Nothing” is borrowing from Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty”…that’s not a coincidence right?
Remember My Name -I believe I just heard “frustration” rhymed with “God Damnation” could that be right? Hahahha…listening to “honey bees” be ferociously screamed is hilarious.
Ok, the longer this goes on, the more convoluted it becomes “the sword and the shield the beast and the yoke…sinking on the ship of fools”…oy.
After Listening: Well, that’s finally over. It’s not that I didn’t actually like some of it, I did, but that album is at least 5 tracks too long. I couldn’t keep up with any sort of story after Ship of Fools and all of its ridiculousness. The rest was just these guys loving to hear themselves scream. It wasn’t unlistenable, and there was at least a story to follow for a while. Not since Operation Mindcrime has a concept album been so clearly conceptual. You can take it upon yourself to decide which light to take that statement in. Still all of the vocals just felt silly and monotonous after a while, and if there was any novelty to be had with this band, it disappeared fairly quickly. I just want to give the lead singer some Cepacol for that throat. What can I say? Scr-emo just isn’t my cup of tea today, or maybe ever.
Favorite Track: Turn The Season-this makes me feel like I’m 17 again, without the gravelly screaming. Yup, I’m totally bouncing my head and would be seat dancing if I were in my car. It’s too noticeable here in my open cubicle.
Least Favorite-the dual yackfest of Truth I Know-the discrepancy between the music and the vocals are just too much for me to take here and Life In Paper-which again, you can’t repeat “who can I trust” that many times and call the song Life In Paper.
Overall: 2.2-They were only going to be able to get a 3, as the highest from me because of the ridiculous vocals, then I took off a point for every additional 10 minutes I felt was time I could be listening to something other than “WHO CAN I TRUSSSTTT?”
Preconceived Notions: Hardcore? post hardcore? I’d hope for the later – I’m sure most on this thread would prefer the former – Sick of it All (whom I like) is more popular than say Mogwai for example. But being billed as a “rock opera” –I’m just hoping it isn’t 70 plus minutes of indy punk torture.
After Listening: After a very mood setting opening track – which set up ideas of lights in my mind enforcing what little I already know of the “plot” of this thing – I was encouraged…very encouraged. I mean this is an example of how you do a concept album – put your ideas in the actual music – instead of in say expositional dialogue a la the Prince Paul we listened to some days ago. But I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t disappointed by the 2nd track when we get the traditional hardcore setup – faster pace, screaming vocals, etc. And look, I like heavy music…I enjoy a good death metal album here and there, so I am accustomed to either spending a lot of time figuring out lyrics, or just going with the musical flow and screaming along with whatever I want. However, on a concept album if you’re trying to say something with your lyrics you should- you know, make an attempt to have them understood. Aside from the old hardcore repetitive chorus trick- which isn’t quite call and response on this record…but is enough to make sure you hear at least one line a track by repeating it 5 times. And it’s not that the actual voice is that hard to understand, you can understand it fairly easily…when you know, you can hear it. Scream all you want, if you bury your vocals in the mix, it will be tough to decipher it. Also, there’s little to no expression in the vocals – I mean the deliveries are all the same shouting patterns….this is supposed to be a complex story- a meta tale involving all sorts of human experiences and emotion. Here’s all I’m getting from the vocals: I’m loud. Not loud enough mind you above the mix, but loud. There is barely any emotive range here – which is baffling considering the band decided to structure a rock opera.
After 78 mins I’m not parsing out tracks – which had only slight variations.
Overall 2.53 To me great concept albums should have ambition, they should be allowed to be more subtle than forthright-that may actually require multiple listens and the listener actively trying to become engaged, and they should be efforts of a genuine enthusiasm.. I can see all of these qualities on this record. However, to me concept albums should also strive to have musical evolution in stride with their concept, and they need to cast the right players in the right parts. It’s on these latter 2 points where this album falls flat. The music is a bunched together in the same sonic sphere as any other band’s rants about drinking in a bar. The one redeeming musical theme are these light interludes that crop up in the intro to various tracks, but it isn’t enough- it just isn’t enough to have one brief musical theme try to tie 78 mins together. To me there’s no question the vocal deliveries kill this….the listener can never identify emotion in the static shouting deliveries – and therefore the music never has the corresponding emotional impact either. It would’ve been for example, nice to hear 2 different vocal deliveries for the characters of David and Dr Octavio…I mean if I were to tell you there was more than one male voice on this record would you believe me, without having to listen to it again? Probably not.
I’m guessing the acclaim for this album comes from its idea. Maybe musically most bands have stopped attempting things like this, maybe they’re also getting extra credit for being in a genre not typically known for stretching itself.
I can go some of that distance with them….it is good to try ambitious things regardless of how they’ll be perceived . Unfortunately on this record what comes across in the execution of the idea is an out of place inauthentic feel in spite of (what I presume is) the band’s overriding desire to remain true to their musical identity.
It’s like asking the people that built the stage for the hit Broadway musical to get up there and act it out as soon as the last bit of scenery is hung up. You’ll be lucky if they get any of the lines right – let alone are able to carry a tune.
Kudos to those who like this album a lot- but I feel like somehow these guys wanted to fully commit to this idea and just didn’t have it in them at the end of the day.
F’cked Up – David Comes to Life
Preconception: I was not impressed by earlier Single’s Day appearances by this band and their over-earnest kiddie noise.
After Listening: Eff me, this is worse than working.
The Worst: What exactly is the point of Let Her Rest? Someone needs to explain to F’dUp that filler goes in the middle, not the beginning.
The Other Shoe is two sizes too large. Can I exchange it for store credit?
Overall: A Punk Rock Opera about 20-something Canadians’ concept of Thatcher’s England which morphs into a metaphysical exploration of fictional narrative? My, that sounds interesting…
Oh, wait, no it doesn’t. It’s sounds positively dreadful. This insipid story (Les Miserables, as written by Charlie Kaufman, starring Sid & Nancy) is hard to follow when it’s screamed at you in four to six minute chunks. Kids, let me explain why all early punk rock songs are about 2 minutes long: it doesn’t give you time to grow weary of the 2 chords. Keep It Short, Stupid
The screamed vocals would make Dicky Barrett cringe and offer a lozenge. They are mostly unintelligible and do not mesh with the female lead’s voice (who thankfully is killed off early for some reason). This may work on a short blast of punkedyrockedy vitriol but it is useless here.
Take the pretentiousness of political punk rock and add the unironic earnestness of musical theatre and you get this unenjoyable silly mess. It’s exhausting.
Extra Credit: The Pist – Ideas are Bulletproof
(one minute, fifty-four seconds. Hint effing hint.)